Secrets and Mysteries

The past week has brought some wonderful mysteries and surprises into my life.  All of them are yarn, sock, and shawl related goodness, which is supposed to be kept somewhat under wraps so as not to ruin the surprise for unsuspecting participants.  So if you don’t want to see this month’s Cookie A. Sock Club yarn, and don’t want to see what Clue #1 of the Westknits Mystery KAL looks like, read no further.

Here is a lovely buffer picture of a mysterious gourd blossom in my garden, a sprout from the compost that I am letting run wild.  Seriously, don’t go past the blossom if you want to remain surprised…

Welcome, curious onlookers!

While at Sock Summit (yes, that again…I’m almost done talking about it, I promise!), I fell hard for the A Verb for Keeping Warm booth.  I had seen their yarn over the winter, and loved  its beautiful color palette, a result of all natural dyes.  This time they had small skeins perfect for multi-color knitting, and I had a real hey day matching up colors for my Westknits shawl.  While there, Cookie A. just happened to be drooling over an acidic yellow yarn dyed with marigold blooms.  I was instantly drawn to the yarn, both because I love yellow and because I think Cookie A.’s taste in yarn is superb.  Suddenly, something inexplicable came over me, and I just had a feeling that she would be putting some Verb yarn in her sock club soon.  Right, Striped Socks?

Sanguine Gryphon Skinny Bugga (left) & A Verb for Keeping Warm Creating (right)

I chose 3 colors of Verb’s Creating yarn for the shawl: Marigold, Barnacle! Matey! and Indigo.  The first clue was a brief but tasty nugget, and Striped Socks and I wound our yarn and cast on the same day (she in the car while I drove us to the beach, I later that evening).  I am loving my color combo and am excitedly working my way through the second clue now.

And then, a few days ago, I got my sock club yarn.  It’s beautiful.  See how this is all coming together?

Am I psychic, or what?

Yarn Along:: Art & Play

Joining up with Ginny and others for Yarn Along again this week to share two of my passions: knitting and reading.

I have been feeling inspired to try some unstructured, playful art activities at home with PB.  We have experimented with crayons, play dough, and watercolor paints, but her interactions with these materials is sporadic.  I leave crayons and paper out all the time, and she scribbles occasionally, but just hasn’t seemed to really enjoy it.  In reading The Artful Parent blog, I have put together a reading and activity list for the summer, and am making artful play a priority.  First Art is packed with simple, loosely guided activities for toddlers and twos, with the goal of exploration and creative play.  As with most things in life, toddler art should be about the process, not the product.

Over the weekend we went out of town for the day, exploring the quaint mountain town of Sisters, Oregon.  I was surprised and delighted by their local yarn and fabric shop, The Stitchin’ Post.  Sometimes these small town shops are dusty and packed with outdated yarn and patterns, but this was just the opposite.  It was open and cheerful, and everywhere I turned I saw sumptuous yarn, vibrant fabric, and the latest publications.  I have been eyeing Meg McElwee’s new book, Growing up Sew Liberated, as it tours through the blogosphere, and had to bring it home.  As expected, the patterns are charming and lovely.  I am really enjoying her asides about parenting small children, encouraging play, mindfulness, and responsibility.  I’m pretty excited to try my hand at the basic pocket pants, all-by-myself bib, and the embroidered place mat.

And finally, the knitting.  After finishing up my shawl on Friday, I basked in the high of only having one project on the needles.  Oh the sweet freedom and potential!  That only lasted a day before I decided to cast on the first sock pattern from the Cookie A club, Haleakala.  I don’t know if it’s the cashmere in the yarn or the fun of watching the cable and lace motif take shape, but these socks are flying!  I’m already at the heel turn and I’m hoping to have the pair finished in time for Sock Summit at the end of July.  I know myself, however, and fully expect to stall out on the second sock, so I’m trying to ride this wave of enthusiasm as far as it will take me!

What are you reading and creating this week? Do you have any favorite activities for artful play with toddlers?


Sock Club Update

Recently I received the third installment of the Cookie A. sock club and it dawned on me: I haven’t talked about any of them yet!  This is the first year Cookie has done a sock club, and I have to say she is doing a phenomenal job.  It’s set up a little differently than I’ve experienced before.  Each installment has three components: yarn, patterns, and a cookie recipe.  The yarn comes to your mailbox, while the patterns and recipes are sent as a pdf file to both your email and Ravelry accounts.  Cookie herself has a strong presence in the club’s Ravelry group, and she has been quick to answer questions and correct errors.

At first, I longed for a hard copy of the patterns.  I spend enough of my free time staring at the computer screen that I enjoy the tactile experience of reading off of paper.  Publishing in this manner allows the designer to include more detail, more photos, and TWO patterns and recipes each time.  This month that equaled over 30 pages of info, which would be a fortune to print!  Everything is saved on my computer and in my Ravelry library, so they are safe and I can print patterns off as needed.

The yarn has been exquisite and just up my alley as far as companies and colors.  Warning: I’m showing the June shipment in the 3rd photo, so go no further if you don’t want to spoil the surprise. The first arrived right before I left for Stitches West back in February, so I barely had a chance to get to know it before a huge influx of new yarn joined the stash. But I liked it instantly!

It is String Theory Caper Sock in the colorway Solas. This is a superwash merino, cashmere and nylon blend that takes you on a journey through deep teal, greys and browns.  I like to think of this color as dirty teal.  Cookie’s accompanying patterns are divine.  One is a more complex, the other a simple all-over pattern, which seems to be the theme of each installment’s patterns.  They suit the yarn impeccably, which I really appreciate.

April’s shipment brought me one of my favorite colors, purple!

This skein is a truly special treat as it is a brand new line of yarn from Lorna’s Laces called Solemate in Boysenberry Jam, a colorway especially for the sock club.  It’s superwash merino, nylon, and their new climate-control material Outlast, perfect for summer socks.  Again, love the patterns and there’s a recipe for a peanut butter and jelly cookie that I’m anxious to try.

And last but not least is June’s shipment (final spoiler warning!):

At first I was a tad disappointed to see this shade of orange, as it is so close to the colorway I used for my last pair of finished socks.  I’ve been dying to try Hazel Knits yarn, however, so all is not lost.  I think this shade of orange will make a zesty lace shawl, don’t you? ; )

So that’s the sock club update at the halfway point.  As you may have guessed, I have yet to knit any of this gorgeous yarn into the amazing patterns, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been enjoying the club.  It will happen with the time is right.  I wholly endorse this club and encourage you to sign up for next year’s club if you have the opportunity.

Yarn Envy

A while back I bought a lovely skein of yarn from Blue Moon Fiber Arts to make a pair of socks.  The yarn was beautiful, both in the skein and in a center-pull ball; the colors were reminiscent of a lake: its dark turquoise waters, sand and rocky shores.  When traveling I often like to bring a yarn or project along that speaks to my destination, and so this yarn seemed a natural choice to take along to an art retreat on a mountain lake in New Hampshire.  I knit and knit on this sock while at camp, only to discover some less than attractive pooling was happening.  When I got home, I ripped it all out and started a different pattern complete with a different stitch count.  Imagine my dismay when the same ugly pooling happened again!  This half-knit sock went into time out for over a year until the big stash purge before I moved.

I took the yarn, with half-knit sock still attached, along with some other destash skeins to my knitting night and wouldn’t let anyone get away without taking some yarn.  A smart knitter promptly grabbed that skein of BMFA, and I was happy to see it go.

But then, a couple of weeks later, this woman had the nerve to show up knitting the most amazing looking pair of socks with the yarn!  And there was no pooling!  I was impressed and a little jealous, and as soon as I was able I queued up the pattern for use with my next high contrast yarn dilemma.

The yarn is always greener when someone else has it.

Have you ever been at a yarn shop or fiber festival, casually looking at a display of yarn, not feeling moved about anything in particular until another knitter comes up and grabs one of the skeins?  Oh, it must be good yarn.   Maybe I’ll give it a second look. I’ve been guilty of this covetous behavior, I’ll admit it!

The strangest form of this happened last weekend when I started to covet some of my own yarn.

My sister was in town (along with my nephew and mom) to celebrate PB’s birthday.  I cleverly taught her to knit a few years ago, and now whenever we are together we like to play with yarn, talk patterns, and show each other our works-in-progress.  She is expecting a little girl in the spring, and so we were both excited to pull out my stash and start looking for colors that might make good baby projects.  I may have had a few such skeins stashed since PB came into my life, projects that never made it to the needles.  So when someone else put her hands on my would-be knitting, I got a little territorial.  We agreed I would knit her baby projects with these yarns since I still had a desire to use them.  Then she set about going through the rest of my stash looking for yarns she would knit up herself.

What about this? she’d ask.  Do you think I could make a hat with this? Sure!  I’d say.  A scarf with this?  Fingerless gloves with this? Before I knew it, half my dining table was covered with yarn that just an hour before had been huddled in the dark corners of my yarn cabinet.  It was looking pretty good to me all of a sudden, even though some of the skeins had been in the stash for years.  In the light of day (and someone else’s desire) the yarn reminded me of why I had chosen it in the first place.

I figured that the yarn I moved from CT would have to be pretty special to warrant making such a big move.  Around the first of the year I made an informal resolution to “knit more from my stash”, a ubiquitous knitter’s resolution, I know.  My sister taking several skeins really helps me out, right?  I don’t mind sharing, and yet I couldn’t help feel a twinge of something like sadness to see these yarns go.  Besides, she doesn’t have easy access to a local yarn shop, and I do.

Funny side note: shortly after deciding to knit more from my stash in 2011, Nutmeg Knitter announced on Facebook that there was going to be a Cookie A. sock club. I mulled it over for a couple of days and then joined.  More yarn!  I’m due to receive a swap package soon.  More yarn! And last but not least, I just made the final arrangements to go to Stitches West in a couple of weeks.  Still more yarn!

Looks like I won’t be going hungry for yarn any time soon, and I’m so happy my abandoned skeins have found a new life in someone else’s stash.  Even if I still wistfully think about the cardi I wanted to knit with that pink yarn…